PHLEGETHON 13 October – 20 November




13 October- 20 November, 2021

Flowers Gallery: 21 Cork Street: London W1S 3LZ



Phlegethon (The Fiery Third River of Hell), 2021 oil on canvas, 153 x 183 cm


Flowers Gallery is pleased to present new works by Scottish artist Peter Howson. The exhibition of apocalyptic paintings and drawings draws its title from the mythical river Phlegethon, known as the ‘river of fire’, which featured notably as a site of punishment in Dante’s Divine Comedy.

Throughout his career, Howson has tackled the subject of human conflict and destruction, both in his role as a former official war artist, and in his observations of everyday struggles.

In the exhibition Phlegethon, Howson explores themes of prophecy, suffering and redemption, aligning his harrowing vision of contemporary crisis with a collision of references stemming from medieval literature, Renaissance poetry and 20th century science fiction.


Vox Et Praeterea Nihil (A Voice and Nothing Besides), 2021, various inks on paper, 51 x 76 cm

Howson’s epic scenes seethe with figures, often linked together by wire-like tendrils entangling the turbulent mass of limbs. In the examples of Vox Et Praeterea Nihil (A Voice and Nothing Besides), 2021, and Phlegethon (The FieryThird River of Hell), 2021, these cords emanate from a central decapitated head, revealing a reference to the sinister conspiratorial experiment of C.S. Lewis’s science fiction novel That Hideous Strength.

Amongst narrative allusions to political events of our times, suggested by images of national flags, angry mobs, war and technology, Howson introduces symbolic motifs to address enduring questions of faith and spirituality. Texts engraved in pub signs and placards often provide wayfinders to navigate the images, such as the reference to John Donne’s Holy Sonnets embedded in the sign ‘La Corona’ or the memento mori message of ‘The Passing Bell’, suggesting a meditation on mortality and impermanence.

Flowers Gallery Opening Hours: Monday – Saturday 11am – 6pm or by appointment.

Image Credits: All images © Peter Howson